British Military & Criminal History:

1900 to 1999.

HOME

IMT

Home - War Crimes Trials - IMT - Robert Jackson

Introduction

This page provides a brief summary about Robert Jackson, who was the Chief US Prosecutor at the IMT. Unlike the IMTFE, each of the four powers (US, USSR, UK and France) provided its own Chief Prosecutor.

Robert Jackson

At the time of his appointment to the US Supreme Court, Robert Jackson did not possess a law degree.

 He had been born on a farm in rural Pennsylvania. His Father, William Jackson, was a self-taught self-made entrepreneur. Jackson's Mother, Angelina Houghwout, was descended from an old Dutch family that had been in the US since 1660. When Robert Jackson was five, the family moved to the Jamestown area of western New York State.

Robert Jackson spent a year at Albany Law School on money borrowed from an Uncle, and received a certificate of completion, but not a degree. He settled in Jamestown and represented a string of banks, railroads, industries and wealthy estates. By 1932, Robert (or Bob) Jackson was prosperous, a pillar of Jamestown society and married to his law school sweetheart, Irene Gerhardt, and the Father of a son, William Eldred, and a daughter, Mary Margaret.

Jackson was an active supporter of New York's Democratic Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who appointed him to a commission to study the state's judicial system. After Roosevelt's election to the presidency, Jackson was made general counsel to the Internal Revenue Bureau, where his notable accomplishment was the successful prosecution of financier Andrew Mellon for income-tax evasion. Jackson also served as special counsel to the Treasury and the Securities and Exchange Commission and as assistant attorney general of the Tax, and then the Anti-Trust, Division.

President Roosevelt appointed him U.S. solicitor general in 1938 and attorney general in 1940. As attorney general he drafted, at Roosevelt's request, an opinion defending the transfer to Great Britain of 50 over-age destroyers in exchange for U.S. acquisition of several British military bases.

In 1941 Roosevelt named Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. His early opinions reflect his liberal and nationalistic views. In Edwards v. California (1941), which declared unconstitutional California's "Okie" law barring indigent migrants from entering the state, Jackson held that freedom of movement within the United States was guaranteed by citizenship.

His liberal views were balanced by concern for maintaining public order and security, which led to his concurring with court findings against the Communist Party and in favour of the relocation of Japanese persons during World War II.

Following Roosevelt's election for a 3rd term in 1940, Jackson was still highly thought of by Roosevelt. In July 1941, when the Supreme Court's Chief Justice, Charles Evans Hughes, resigned, Jackson was named as an Associate Justice with Harlan F. Stone being named as the new Chief Justice.

Jackson was appointed to help draw up the agreements which formed the basis of the IMT, and he was appointed as the US Chief Prosecutor.

While Jackson was criticised for his poor cross-examination of Goering, he made a very eloquent closing speech.

Blog | UK Medals | Remembrance | War Crimes | Spying | Courts Martial | Criminal Cases | Index | Contact